Many U.S. Residents Would Accept Health Plans With More Restrictions To Reduce Costs, Survey Finds
About 59% of U.S. residents with employer-sponsored health care coverage in 2003 said they would accept a more limited choice of hospitals and physicians in return for lower out-of-pocket costs, up from 55% in 2001, according to a study to be released Thursday by the Center for Studying Health System Change, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Agovino, AP/Boston Globe, 3/24).
The study was based on a survey of 20,000 U.S. residents with employer-sponsored health care coverage (Dorschner, Miami Herald, 3/24). According to the AP/Globe, HSC has conducted the survey regularly since 1997 (AP/Boston Globe, 3/24).
The study indicated that two-thirds of respondents whose annual incomes did not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level said they would opt for a more restrictive health plan to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses. About 54% of respondents with annual incomes exceeding 400% of the federal poverty level said they would make the same choice, according to the study.
Ha Tu, author of the study, said, "This result suggests that while out-of-pocket costs may represent a heavier burden for low-income people, the impact of increased patient cost sharing likely has been felt across a broad spectrum of incomes" (Miami Herald, 3/24).
HSC President Paul Ginsburg attributed the results of the survey to a growing trend among employers to shift health care costs to their employers in the form of higher premiums, deductibles and copayments for doctor visits and prescription medications. However, the AP/Globe reports that Ginsburg does not anticipate a return to more restrictive managed care policies, despite the survey's findings (AP/Boston Globe, 3/24).